It’s been a while –

and boy, has it been busy at the bike shed.

Where to begin?

Well, for starters, after the doctor ordered me not to ride for a while in my last post, I was somewhat grounded. So I scraped together parts for the Mukluk frame I’d had hiding in the shed all winter, got it ready to go, and took it in to the shop in April. I got it back in June, and have been joyfully riding it. I love teh fun looks I get, the “How big are those tires, anyway?” and the jealous looks I get from people who know what they are! I even had some policemen pointing at my bike as I drove through town one day. Entertaining!!!

Then another addition to the fleet – I got a really good deal on a Long Haul Trucker frame (Surly number 3), got parts, and had that built before my favorite bike shop closed up. Trucker is army olive green – 2009 vintage I think. In excellent condition too – picked it up down in DC from a guy who had bought an Atlantis and moved over the parts.

Finally – I picked up a 1985 – I think – Raleigh Tamarack Mountain Tourer – why? It’s one of the early attempts at 650b integration. Got a good price and brought it home. It’s in pretty good shape, no really big scratches, no dents. However, it came with a seatpost that is two sizes too small, and beautiful tires that were too big. So, bought new tires, and am going to trade the others for something else. I wish the Continental Town and Country tires that were on that bike hadnot been so large – they ride beautifully!!! Also am going to get it a new seatpost that fits, different handlebars with new cables/housings and put fenders on it – it will be a fun cruiser!!!

I didn’t get to go on my long bike ride to my friend’s house this summer – the surgery rather prevented me from training the way I neede to, and the arm wasn’t strong enough for long, continuous brake work down the sides of mountains. It’s better – much better – now, but I still have some work to do with it.

Been doing some riding with several people over the summer and early fall. Lots of fun short trips and in general, good fun has been had by all. Most recently, I did the Seagull Century with 6,000+ other riders.

I am looking forward to a good fall season and a fun winter on the Mukluk. Enjoy the leaves, color, and beautiful fall weather.


No biking allowed


So – last winter, around Super Bowl Sunday, I took one of my many toys down a fairly steep hill, only to find the brakes weren’t any good.  I didn’t crash the (then new) bike, but  I tore the tendons in my elbow in the process of braking the bike.  I fooled with the elbow for most of a year, with various tries at curing, and finally ended up having surgery on Feb. 6, 2014. 

The nice doctor says no outdoor biking until probably June. 😦  The good news is I can ride the trainer and not lose my mind!!! 🙂  thankfully I am healing well and looking forward to the nice weather ahead, but there have been several days where I would have willingly suited up and gone riding, if the arm were up to the task.

So while my season won’t start until later in the spring,  I will at least have a season. I will hopefully make up for it on the trainer, watching movies.

Go ride some miles for me!!!

Terry Chrom


Back in the summer, I found a cute, little Terry Chrom in Frederick, Md. Although not my size, it was a really good price and I thought I’d do some TLC and then sell it. However, my Mom rode it once and bought it from me, so those plans never materialized.

Some time later, another one showed up on the same list. This one, however, was in my size (53-54) and looks like the one in the above picture. Screaming pink, white decals. It will have white tires and saddle as well, when I’m finished. I bought it mainly because I didn’t have a nice steel 12-speed in the stable at the moment, and I have always wanted a Terry bike.

Nice Tange 1 tubing and Shimano 105 components. Although it is an older bike, I don’t think it has more than 50 miles on it. The stock Continental tires – dry-rotted and flat – still had the nubs on them and looked brand new, excepting above dry-rot. 1 or 2 scratches on the frame.

Nice springy ride even on not-so-good tires. I also bought it some bright and fun, mulit-color anodized butterfly bottle holders. 🙂

Randonneuring bike

green frame

Some time ago, I decided that I had delusions of grandeur and wanted to do some serious long-distance cycling.  To that end, I had a bike built to spec for that intended purpose.

I thought a great deal about what I wanted in that build.  Relatively light weight, comfortable, and easily maintained were some of the variables I decided on for this bike.

I started with a brand new-in-the box dark green metallic aluminum frame and fork from Nashbar tha I acquired from Craigslist.  Truly NOS – not even out of its wrapping.  The color is a dark green – like British racing green – metal flake metallic.

 The bike is sitting on a custom set of wheels with sun rims and 32 spokes apiece, with a Son 28 dynamo hub to power the lighting. Panaracer Pasela Tour Guards in 700 x 35c handle the roads nicely – not much loss of roling resistance, but easy on the body and soak up road nasties easily. 

Velo Orange hammered fenders keep the garbage off the bike and me, and a Velo Orange Pass Hunter rack holds the front bag.  No name silver aluminum rack does duty on the back.  A Planet Bike ARD saddle keeps my toosh comfy. 

I had wanted Nitto Randonneur bars, but they came in as the wrong size.  I ended up with Bontragers that have a bit of an extension at the ends – good for bar ends and easy on the hands.  Shimano 3 x 9 bar ends (Dura Ace) do shifting duty, Origin8 brake levers handle stopping pressure, and tektro brake calipers handle the actual stops with ease.

I have ridden the bike some miles- for an all-aluminum ride it is surprisingly comfortable.   Very stable handling makes it fun to ride and also fun to travel with.  I have a pretty huge 9 speed cassette on the back – 12-36 -and it lets me climb  hills with ease.  While I wasn’t sure how the rig would turn out, it has suprised me with being beefy, yet light, and comfortable and stable, yet easy to move.  Overall, for this application, it gets a good solid “thumbs up” rating. 


1983 Centurion Pro Tour

Early this past fall, I acquired a used Centurion Pro Tour cheaply on one of the local Craigslists.

This one is not mine, but is very similar to the condition in which my bike was procured.

initial purchase centurion

The big differences were that the rear wheel was not the original 40 spoke rear, and mine had black handlebar tape. 

Mine is a 54cm measurement, and fits pretty well.  I decided I wanted to make some changes to it, so I set about upgrading.

Originally, it came with a 5 speed rear and half-step gearing.  I kept the crank, maintaining the half-step gearing, but changed the shifters and rear free wheel to a 7 speed, operated by RSX STI shifters.  It also got a new saddle, silver plastic fenders, a new wheel set, brakes and brake shoes, rear rack, and front rack.  The rear rack is a period-appropriate Blackburn silver aluminum rack. The front rack is a silver Velo Orange Porteur rack – it looks really nice with the medium blue metallic paint and other silver/chrome bits.  I substituted some different handlebars – they are an anatomic bend, not the original bars, as the originals weren’t wide enough.  Holding the bars to head tube is a converter so that I could use a stem, not a quill, to hold the bars and get them into the position I wanted. I went with Salsa grey handlebar tape and Jagwire ice grey cables.  The bike is also sporting brand new Panaracer Tour Guard 27 1 1/4″ tires.  I tried 700c, but they unfortunately did not want to fit where the cantilevers were hitting. Additionally, the chrome on this nice old bike is still very much intact, and so if I ever want to go completely shiny, I can 🙂 . 

I have gotten to take it out once since the build, and it is really nice.  The frame is Tange Champion 2 and has that famed, Steel ride, springy without giving away all the nice road vibe absorbing qualities that I love. 

I plan to use this bike as a tourer, light or loaded, and as my grocery getter and around-town runner.  A very comfortable ride and well worth having it rebuilt.

Props to the nice folks at Hub City for getting this one up and running.  They do fabulous work, and restoration is not beyond their understanding.

I will post follow-up pics when I can get to the shed.



The new saddle, or the one that almost wasn’t

selle saddle

Well, I thought I’d seen most everything that could be done to a package that has been delivered by UPS, FedEx, or the USPS.  I was in for a bit of a treat, then, considering that I was pretty sure I’d seen it all.

I ordered the above saddle from Pro Bike Kit, across the pond in England, because they offered an insanely good price on one of my favorite saddles and they offered free shipping.  What’s not to like?

So, I ponied up the money – $57 or so US dollars – on 12-17-13, and sat back to wait.  I found in the web site that about 10 days should get it done, so I thought it would make a dandy Christmas present to me. 

Christmas came and went and so did New Year’s – with no saddle.  Another few days passed – no saddle.  I was starting to worry.  I had sent an inquiry to the company, and they said to wait a month before getting to wound up about it.   

On 1-9-14, I went to get the mail, and the husband went in to actually physically fetch it.  He came back out in a bit of a hurry, saying, “You need to come in and look at this to make sure it’s all there.”  I shot him an odd look – I had no idea what this could be – simply because I was expecting the saddle at the house, not the P.O. box.  I went in – and sure enough, there was a box from Pro Bike Kit, inside a clear plastic bag, with stuff falling out of the ripped exterior.

The box looked like Godzilla had gotten hold of it and just ripped into it.  The one whole  corner was gone, and the rest of the box was mashed and shredded.  The little plastic airbags were falling out of it, and saddle, all the way in one corner, was hidden under the mess of cardboard. 

I dug into the box, gently removed the saddle, which was in its own plastic bag, to find that the saddle itself was fine.  the cardboard hang tag was soaked and no longer intact. 

Wow – I didn’t know you could mangle a box that badly and not hurt the actual product, but it appears this is so.  I doubt I will use this company again, even if their prices are that good.  The saddle itself is okay, it is now mounted on its intended bike, and I really like it.

Cyclocross bikes


Above see my most recent acquisition, a 2001-2003 Surly Crosscheck.  The color is “green bean green” and I picked it up the Friday before Christmas. 

The story behind this goes something like this – I have an old Bianchi Axis cyclocross rig.  I really like it  – good fit, very versatile, very useful.  It’s absolutely one of my most favorite bikes.  I liked it so much that I was starting to look for another one, with disc brakes and front rack braze-ons etc – with clearance for some bigger tires – 700 x 45 Firecross tires, precisely.  I had seen the pictures of the new Monstercross rig that Soma is putting out – due in June or July – and I had really liked it.  However, the more I drooled over it, the more I realized how expensive it was gong to be.  I was going to have probably $700 or so in just the frame and then I would need to hang parts on it after the initial investment.  Ouch!!

So – I looked at other cyclocross rigs on Craigslist and other online stores for a while – several months at least.  I didn’t want aluminum, and carbon is not a good investment for me right now.  I’m not 100% convinced of its hype, even though I own a carbon road bike.  I like the carbon, but steel does a better job of the dampening factor, in my opinion.  I saw several that caught my eye, but nothing really jumped out and screamed, “Buy me!!!”

I was looking on a local Craigslist and had searched under “cross” and several things came up, this bike being one of the more recent postings and close to my home.  I also really liked the price – I was able to get a good, light cross bike for less than the price of the Soma Wolverine frame that I was considering purchasing. While the Crosscheck doesn’t have the disc brake braze-ons that both the Wolverine and Surly Straggler possess, I’ve ridden rim brakes for years and haven’t managed to kill them, or myeself, yet.  

I’ve had the bike out on several rides and really like it. As with most steel bikes, the road vibe is pretty well minimalized.  Made from 631 Reynolds tubing, which is cold-drawn, air-hardened steel, the bike is lively and responsive without losing the vibration dampening qualities for which steel is best known. It’s fairly light overall, and is running on a Shimano 105 drive train.  The wheels are Cane Creek Cronos Cross rims, which are crazy light. It will eventually be getting a triple crank, one of my favorite saddles, and a bigger range 9-speed cassette on the back – I have in mind to take this on the fire roads of Michaux and I am going to need some hill-climbing gears for some of those roads.  Sizewise it’s really an excellent fit for me – right top tube length and a good standover height as well.  I believe it’s their size 52, which works well for my shorter arms and torso. 

Another thing I really like about the bike is its overall condition.  This lovely two-wheeled conveyance was ridden less than 500 miles by its original owner.  The gentleman from whom I purchased the bike said it was too large for him – too long in the top tube, and so he never rode it much.  The paint is in good shape as are the components.  I think the blue handlebar tape will need to go – not sure what color is going on next.  I’m debating about black, brown, or a similar green. 

I will post  a later review of overall ride quality and other imoprtant factors when I’ve had the bike for a bit longer.  Right now, I’m just excited to ride the new toy!!!

UPDATE:  bought the toy some new tires – Schwalbe Smart Sams – coming in at a knobby 40c – I thought about the Panaracer Firecross tires for this rig, but they are 45c – don’t think they would have fit in the frame.  the Smart Sams are pretty good, though.  I put some other, smaller cc tires on the Axis, and that works pretty well.  Looking forward to less snow so I can get the bike out of the shed and onto the road!


Some info on Old Bianchis

I have a complete and utter love of old steel bicycles. I’ve owned several, and often find myself in posession of more than one at a time.

One of my all-time favorites is an old Bianchi Axis that I acquired from my good buddy D., down by Cheverly, near D.C.. I came upon this several years ago – maybe as much as 6 or 7 now, and I have held onto this bike through many chages in my personal stable.

axis 2

Pic above – not mine – off the web.  This is the only other pic of the same bike from the same time that I have ever been able to find.  I’m sure the bike isn’t “rare” per se, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be your garden-variety, easily found bike or frame.

About this bike – I believe it to truly be one of the earlier cyclocross bikes. This model still exists for Bianchi and it is their dedicated ‘cross model. This one has the cables running on the top of the top tube, in typical cross fashion. It is made of Bianchi Superset tubing, double-butted and lugged, and was constructed in Japan. This model is black with interesting decals of shades of pink,purple, celeste, and teal. It also has an interesting seat-post size at 26.8 instead of the standard 27.2. My mechanic and I think that is because the tubing is thicker in order to take more abuse. It came to me orignally with its original Bianchi branded tires on it – 700X45 Knobbies. It also did not have fenders and also had interesting paddle-style, SIS shifters which attached to handlebars right near the brakes. (I was finally able to date the shifters to 1992, which I believe is the year of origin for the bike, as Sun Tour went out of business in 1994.The shifters are called Commander shifters.)

I initially pulled off the knobby tires, put on 700×32 Panaracers, installed fenders, and rode it like that for a while. It was my companion down the C & O canal for 75 miles one trip. I changed out stems, putting on a shorter one, and then rode it some more in that configuration.

Recently, I decided to run it in more of a cyclocross mode again, so I pulled off the fenders, put on some Schwalbe Smart Sams in 700X40 knobby and some thorn-proof tires. It’s been great fun to ride this one this way. I took it out on some gravel on on the York Heritage Rail Trail and I also plan on riding it in the gravel/logging roads in Michaux State Forest, which is near my home.

I decided to get a bit of a tune up done to the bike – the brakes were squealing pretty badly and I thought they could use some adjusting- so I sent the bike in to the nice folks at Hub City in Hagerstown – I got a phone call some days later – the washers holding the pads onto the brakes had disintegrated in their hands when they went to work on the brakes – what would I like them to do?

Choices, Choices, Choices.

I ended up putting new brakes on baord – I figured for 25 year old brakes, they’d done their job and didn’t owe me anything. I put new Tektro cantis on the bike, and life was good.

The bike is now ready to be run another multiple thousand miles. I’m looking forward to many more miles on this excellent old steel bike.

Get some miles in this weekend if you can.

Salsa Mukluk – Woo Hoo

mukluk frame

Last winter I was really into the Fat bike idea. I was even going to pull the trigger on the Origin-8 Crawler as my choice for a Fat Bike. Well, a furnace, $5,000 later, and other stuff, and that just didn’t happen. The $$$$ just weren’t there, and I figured that there was no way I’d get to that for quite a while.

Time passes . . . .

Fast Forward to July or so this summer. Craigslist – one more time – is my friend. A guy down in Burke, VA, put a mukluk frame up for sale. I looked at it for a while – 3 -4 weeks. I kept putting off going to see it. It was my size – Point 1. He wasn’t asking for the moon – Point 2. It was well within pickup range, so now shipping – Point 3. What’s not to like?!!?!?!?

So, of course I went to have a look. It was the blue one from 2011-2012. I liked this one better than the others from that company, except the black-and-purple one they also had. (I’ve never been much for white, certain ugly shades of green aren’t welcome in my stable, and I’m not terribly partial to red. If it meant getting a fat bike, I’d have put up with it, but . . . )

The frame was in excellent shape – one or two small scuffs and nothing else. He had built it for his wife, who didn’t like it, and then tore it down. He left the blue Chris King headset on it, and the blue seat collar. I gave him $$$, and walked away happy.

So all summer and fall I’ve been accumulating parts. I have the shifters, front and rear der, front wheel, seat post, rim strips, inner tubes ( not cheap!!!) and cassette. I need a rear wheel, seat, tires, crank, grips, stem, spacers, and handlebar. I may not have it ready until spring, but I’ll just have to get over myself. I can’t dump money on it all at once. 😦

Surprisingly enough, the husband even liked the color. His comment was actually something like, “That’s a pretty color and a nice decal job.” I was surprised – normally I get – “It’s another bike.”

So, the Fat bike is a work-in-progress. I will at least have it for next winter, and all of spring, and summer, I hope. Gotta say, the wheel-set dollars are killing me – man, are those things expensive!!!! The crank won’t be cheap either – I have some choices there, but don’t know which direction to go yet.

I actually am doing some extra work, to make extra money, to put the Fat bike on the road. It’s worth it, but it is just soooo slow. Saving the money for the parts takes time. Haven’t been able to score wheels or cranks on C-list, so I will have to purchase them new.

So . . . I will put out an update when I get this project a little further along. If you have suggestions about handlebars, or tires, or cranks, leave me a comment – I’d love to hear your point of view.

UPDATE – Now have a front Surly wheel for the Muk.  Planning to get the rear wheel fairly soon – thinking about a Truvative crank.  Probably will go with the newest Jones bars for steering – go check out Jeff Jones site -you’ll see them. The ones that aren’t the loop or the “H” bars. Progress is slow, but making it.

One of My NewToys . . .

So – I know its been awhile since I posted – but things have been insane.  I’d like to introduce you to my new best friend- A 2012 Giant Liv Avail 1.  I purchased the frame off Craigslist. I got with it  the frame, forks, headset, spacers, stem, handlebars, carbon seatpost, and seat.  She looks similar to the image below – with  few exceptions.

About the appearance – I wasn’t sure about the metallic grey paint at first – but it’s actually not jumpy, and while the accents are bright, the bike doesn’t draw undue attention to itself.  It’s performance will do that for it, so the appearance doesn’t need to.  I’ve grown to like the looks, and she gets many compliments when we go out for a spin.  I have some long mileage planned for her in the spring.  I’m considering the National Historic Road (Rt. 144) in Maryland in parts starting in the spring.

Instead of the stock build, I changed some things to suit me.  I put FSA wing bars on her -the ones with the flat top.  I also had installed a brand new bottom bracket and Tiagra road triple crankset in a 172.50 length – which is my preferred length – hard to find lately in certain things.  I also find that in this case, I don’t experience toe overlap – which is a huge plus for me. She is also sporting Forte’ shifters in a triple nine configuration.  (I personally prefer a triple nine over almost anything else.  The ratios really work well for me.)  Sora derailleurs handle the shifting duties on the front and rear. She is also wearing a Selle SMP Trk Lady saddle in black.  The handlebar tape and housing are the same color as the turquoise that you can see as an accent color on the down tube of the bike and also a little on the top tube.  I also have Paceline DLX reflex fenders on board, which fit nicely over the 700X25 Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tires that are on board.  I bought this late in the spring, got it built up, and have been riding the daylights out of it ever since.



I have been thrilled by this bike.  I was hoping it would fit me well and would allow for a lightweight road bike with fenders for long distance road rides. (As built, I believe she weighs in the neighborhood of 22-23 pounds) The set up is as perfect as I have ever had as a road bike.  I love that there are fender mounts on the carbon fork and on the rear, also on the seat tube for “slender fenders” like what I am using. The sloping top tube is perfect for my legs, and the cockpit distance is also perfect.  (I like the set up on this bike so much that I changed the configuration of my Madone to match this one.)  Additionally, this bike flies.  While slightly slower to spin up than my Madone, once it is up to speed, it holds speed really well, and you don’t realize how fast you’re going.  The carbon fork does a good job of beating down the vibe, and the higher head tube allows me to get my head up more and see better.  The Sram Red brakes with Kool Stop brake pads on board do a great job of stopping the bike on a dime and without throwing me over the handlebars. Handling is stable without  being slow, and I find myself cornering at higher speeds than I previously thought I could.  Comparing my Madone to this bike, I find the Madone to be much twitchier and it takes me a bit to get used to it again when  ride it. 

One reviewer* had this to say,  “Borrowed from the Defy Advanced SL design is the extra-oversized OverDrive 2 front end. A 1 1/4in to 1 1/2in steerer tube is included to improve handling precision and confidence, especially at higher speeds, while a wider bottom bracket with press-fit bearing cups lends a stiffer and more efficient lower end.”  I would have to agree with this statement.  The bike is very stable, especially at higher speeds and flies in and out of corners without any concerns about it coming off the line you choose for it.  The big bottom bracket transfers power really well, and your energy definitely goes straight into the wheels.

The same reviewer* also had this to say about handling – with which I totally agree – “Handling strikes a good compromise between twitchy and lazy – it’s not so fast that the bike overreacts but is quick and responsive, going exactly where you want and not beyond. Overall, we found that the Avail felt natural and intuitive straight out of the box. In other words, there was no question that we were taking it out for a ride and not the other way around.”  I’ve ridden lots of bikes, and this one is one of the best for predictable, responsive, and quick handling without twitchiness.  This one also does well with being wound up more gradually – it’s not as stiff and race-oriented as some bikes I’ve ridden, and while not slow, it’s not built for criterium racing.  This bike would probably be most at home in a Roubaix style race or a Gran Fondo – something that is more endurance oriented.


Overall – I have to say I really like this ride.  I’ve put a number of miles on this bike since I got it out of the shop, and it suits me perfectly.  I even sold a few other bikes because I didn’t need them anymore after I bought this one. 

UPDATE: So, before Christmas, I found something on the C-list that made a lovely upgrade to this bike.

I had long been toying with the idea of putting a lighting system on this rig. This bike is so comfortable that long days in the saddle are no issue – but running out of daylight is, so I thought about various ways to solve the problem. I decided that I would eventually like to put a dynamo hub on the bike and use it. I knew, however, it wouldn’t be cheap to do, and so put the thought aside until I had the money to do it. Low and behold, someone on c-list had a 700c Velocity rim laced to a sony dynamo hub, with really a really nice 28 spoke count. And, they didn’t want an arm, leg, and first-born child for it. I went and picked it up, and very quickly installed it on the Giant. Now, I’m saving money for the light. Several models are being considered, all of them on Peter White’s site.



*Lorna Bradley, Bike Radar